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Academia and Social Justice
Conference held by the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship and the Arab Studies Institute
{{langos=='en'?('11/03/2016' | todate):('11/03/2016' | artodate)}} - issue 3.2

Faculty and students at institutions of higher learning have always been engaged in the issues of their times. They have often played an important galvanizing and sometimes game-changing role in their societies’ demands for equity, equality, and social and political justice. They have done so both in their academic and research production as well as their direct social and political activism within the community beyond academia, sometimes paying a heaving price for this activism. Historically, the choice to focus scholarship and engagement with the community on social justice issues has not always been an easy one for those in academia. 

This conference, sponsored by Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship and the Arab Studies Institute, aimed to query aspects of this history in the MENA region and beyond, the debates and paradigms that define this engagement, as well as obstacles and resistance on the part of university administrations and society’s power elites. The conference also sought to situate those dynamics within the current understanding(s) of the role of academic institutions, market-place economics and corporatization, and political orthodoxy.  


Conference Schedule

Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship Arab Studies Institute 

Second Annual Conference (March 11 – 13, 2016), Crown Plaza Hotel, Beirut

DAY ONE – Friday, March 11

Introductions and welcome panel

  1. Fadlo Khuri, President, American University of Beirut (AUB)

  2. Bassam Haddad, George Mason University & Arab Studies Institute

  3. Fateh Azzam, Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship, AUB

Panel 1: Academia and political society

Moderator: Omar Dewachi, AUB

  1. Ala Alazzeh, Birzeit University - Knowledge in a Colonial Space.

  2. Alan Sears, Ryerson University - Infrastructure of dissent.

  3. Sari Hanafi, AUB - The Demise of Public Life of Arab Academics: The case of writing

    op-eds in Lebanese newspapers.

  4. Coralie Pison Hindawi, AUB - The role of Academia in Individual R2P

Panel 2: Academia and the marketplace

Moderator: Nadya Sbaiti, AUB

  1. Mudar Kassis, Birzeit University - Do universities contribute to the consolidation of contemporary slavery?

  2. Corinna Mullin, University of Tunis & SOAS - Global neoliberal governance and higher education: power and resistance in post-uprising Tunisia

  3. Tory Bryklaksi, University of California-Davis - Organized labor as a form of strategic resistance against the privatization of the academy

Panel 3: Are public universities expressions of social justice?

Moderator: Nahla Chahal, As-Safir Al-Arabi Weekly Supplement

  1. Rehab Sakr, Cairo University - ‘Free University Education, the Quality of the ‘Product’ and the changing meaning of social justice: The Egyptian experience from 1950s until now.’

  2. Nahla Abdel Tawab, Salma Abou Hussein, and Tarek Alam El Din, Population Council - The Cost of ‘Free’ University Education in Egypt: Analyzing evidence of equity in access.

  3. MennatuAllah Hendawy, Ain Shams University - Does Academia reinforce socio-spatially just designs?

Panel 4: The active role of students

Moderator: Aya Adra, Red Oak Club, AUB

  1. Mohamed Baba Mohda, Université Internationale du Sahel - When students impose social justice through democratic means

  2. Mohammed Aljssem, Damascus University - Academic alienation in Syrian universities and the Syrian social movement

  3. Pankhuri Dasgupta, Centre for Women’s Studies - ‘Occupy UGC’ – A closer look at student movements in India in 2015

Panel 5: Academic organizing in Lebanon

Moderator: Sawsan Abdulrahim, AUB Faculty United, AUB

  1. Emile Shaheen, Author, formerly Lebanese University - The role of faculty and students in the birth of the Lebanese University

  2. Jacques Kabbanji, Contemporary Arab Affair, Lama Kabbanji, Research Institute for Development, and Hala Awada, researcher - The university public space and the protest movement experience in Lebanon.

  3. Makram Rabbah, Georgetown University - Beyond the Gilded Walls: AUB and the World Around it

Panel 6: Advocating for Palestine in Western academic Institutions

Moderator: Steven Salaita, AUB

  1. Brenna Bhandar, SOAS - The Big Chill: Charities law and the politics of BDS activism in UK universities.

  2. Rafeef Ziadah, SOAS - Silencing Dissent on Campus: the case of Israeli Apartheid Week’

  3. Max Ajl, Cornell University - Opening Spaces for Speech: Organizing against backlash

  4. Tareq Radi, Georgetown University - Repression Through Reform: The Student Handbook as a Living Document

Town Hall meeting; Guided open discussion Moderators: Fateh Azzam, Bassam Haddad, Rania Masri

DAY TWO – Saturday March 12

 Panel 7: The University and Beyond: Power, Ethics and Academic Freedom

Moderator: Seteney Shami, Arab Council for the Social Sciences

  1. Eileen Kuttab, Birzeit University – Gender, Equity, and Social Justice in the University

  2. Ramy Aly, American University in Cairo (AUC) – Academic Freedom between the University and the State

  3. Perla Issa, Institute for Palestine Studies – Reflections on conducting research with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

Panel 8: Pedagogy and social justice

Moderator: Elie el Hindi, Notre Dame University

  1. Rabab Abdulhadi, San Francisco State University - Resisting the New McCarthyism: Palestine Studies and Justice-Centered Knowledge

  2. Sabiha Allouche, SOAS - No Longer Caught Between Two Worlds: Towards a Decolonized Feminist Research in the Middle East

  3. Gregory Shupak, University of Guelph -Teaching Media and the Middle East in a Western University

Panel 9: Schools and alternative models

Moderator: Fateh Azzam, Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship, AUB

  1. Mike Orr, University of Edinburgh, and Samer Annous, University of Balamand - Linguistic Imperialism, identity, and English medium instruction in Lebanon

  2. Ghada Feghali, Mmkn Association - Pedagogy for social justice: The experience of Mmkn

  3. Sawsan El Sherif, AUC - Learning and knowledge-based society: the Community Universities

Closing Panel: Publicly Engaged Scholarship

Moderator: Huda Zurayk, AUB

  1. Patrick McGreevy, AUB - The idea of university autonomy and the challenges of the 21st century

  2. Ahmad Dallal, AUB - The role of public intellectuals in the changing landscape of higher education

  3. Bassam Haddad, George Mason University & Arab Studies Institute - Context, opportunities and limits